Over the last year and a half I have been fighting to save the Brays Bay
mangroves, and it appears that the fight has been won in favour of the
mangroves, birds and other wildlife!! For information, this is at Concord
West in suburban Sydney, with Brays Bay, Parramatta River and Homebush Bay
nearby, as well as Concord Repatriation Hospital.
The reason I mention the Hospital is because it was the hospital General
Manager who was threatening the mangroves, with a proposal as follows. The
hospital is (was) a "repatriation" hospital connected with the medical
attention of people hurt in war, and the general manager wanted to build
nearby a Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway (KTMW) in commemoration of our war
heroes who served in PNG. This consisted of a war memorial and creating a
path of paving tiles, which basically followed where people have generally
walked and worn a track in the existing Rotary Park lawn. TO THESE I HAD NO
OBJECTION WHATSOEVER. The memorial has been built and is nice in its own way
(the garden needs to grow a bit yet) and the path is fine as well.
However, part of the grand plan was to build a long (1 kilometre) meandering
mangrove boardwalk through the adjacent Brays Bay mangroves. As these
mangroves are only 20 to 30 feet wide in many places and only about 60 foot
wide at their widest spot, the nature of the boardwalk was such that it would
have broken up the mangroves and rendered them useless for birds and other
wildlife. Once built, the Hospital had proposed that the Council be
responsible for the boardwalk's subsequent maintenance!!
The first development application for the KTMW went to Council some one and a
half years ago, representing Stage 1 of the proposal and including the long
meandering boardwalk. Myself and two others from Concord municipality
objected, and Cumberland Bird Observers Club also objected representing over
450 people. The boardwalk was rejected by Council at that stage.
Stage 1 of the development was otherwise approved and building began several
months later. To "announce" the development, a sign appeared at the Concord
Road end of Rotary Park with a map showing the long meandering boardwalk and
saying that it was supported by various organisations including Concord
Council. Of course this concerned me and three letters to Concord Council
received no formal response, though the Green Party member of the Council
phoned me to say the sign was wrong and that Council was asking the hospital
to replace it.
Due to the lack of response from Council, I took the matter to my journalist
contact from the Courier newspaper. That newspaper has previously published a
front page article on the boardwalk and my objection, and the journalist
contacted the hospital and Council etc. The Council re-confirmed that the
sign was wrong, and that they most definitely were against any long and
meandering boardwalk through the Brays Bay mangroves. There is an existing
short boardwalk going straight from the land to the water (i.e. 90 degrees
angle to the land, about 30 feet in length) and there may be some
"refurbishment" of that boardwalk.
So it appears that the mangroves are safe for some time. I will need to be
vigilant of course for when Stage 2 etc. development applications of the KTMW
are presented to Council and of course Councillors could change, but at the
present time it appears that the current people within Council have a
reasonable commitment to preservation of the Brays Bay mangroves.
A short summary of the reasonings used in the fight against the mangrove
1. JAMBA/CAMBA/Schedule 12 of NPW Act
2. The birds protected as above, unique to Concord West, should be pleased to
3. Concord Council itself advertises its environmental concern and Concord
the "green/garden" suburb
4. Brays Bay is part of a continuous habitat stretching from Five Dock around
to Homebush and further.
5. Mangrove boardwalk could interfere with fish breeding (NSW Fisheries
6. Trees produce fresh air, keep down pollution
7. Long boardwalk already exists at Homebush Bicentennial Park, only 3 km
8. Cost involved in building and maintaining the boardwalk, liability of
Council towards anyone who hurts themselves on the boardwalk (Strathfield
Council was already being sued by someone hurt when a plank of a mangrove
boardwalk gave way).
9. Cleanliness of the area/rubbish coming into the mangroves from the river
(some boating people are grubs) - cost to constantly clean up.
10. Narrowness of the Brays Bay mangroves and hence breakup from proposed
11. Constant development of "little bits" of land fast add up to a huge loss
12. We don't have to develop every bit of land to an inch of its life - let's
have something truly natural.
I am most pleased at the achievement to date - a nice way to finish 1996 - and
have relaxed a little that the mangroves are safe for a while. Cheers for the
birds and the environment.
Sydney NSW Australia